23 November 2009

I Heart StudyLink

New Zealand students from all over the country have a love/hate relationship with the government provider of student loans and allowances, known to us as "StudyLink". We love them because they fund our studies, but we hate them because we are forced to pay them back with stupid amounts of interest. They also frequently fuck us around with regards to course-related costs, living payments, and eligibility requirements.

Since Otago University does not offer a November Summer programme, I opted to come to Canterbury. As such, in order to receive my living payment ($160.24 weekly - and yes, this is added to my final loan total) StudyLink needed confirmation from both schools. Which would be fine, if Otago was willing to confirm my enrolment before January 5th, which is when I start Summer Session there. They are not.

The upshot of this situation is that come January 5th, I stand to receive a nice back payment of $961.44.

The problem is, I need to pay rent, pay a bond for my next year's flat and buy food until then. Which is proving to be a slight issue.

I asked StudyLink if I could apply solely for my Canterbury living costs, to which the answer was no, since the Session only spans six weeks (less than the required twelve). I asked Otago if they could verify my study details ahead of time, so I can survive until I get there. They also said no.

This is not my first living payment battle with StudyLink. Last year, when I began my training at the Samala Robinson Academy, StudyLink informed me that because I wasn't studying full-time (which I was), I wasn't eligible. After a few strong words from the Academy director to StudyLink, I soon started receiving my weekly survival money. Admittedly, with rent at $150 a week, $160.24 did not go far. But you can imagine how well my life would have worked out, had I not received the payments.

I managed to complete my Bachelor's degree on a Prime Minister's Scholarship for swimming, but sadly this will not be the case for my hugely more expensive postgraduate work. Am I then, tempted to get back in the pool in a vain attempt to cover tuition? Yes. Only that in the five years since Athens, swimming speed at the Olympics has increased exponentially to the extent where I'll either need a miracle or some designer steroids to be considered "back in the game". Aaand I'm not sure how well that's going to fit in with my academic schedule.

Meh, well. I suppose this is what we get for wanting an education.

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